New Zealanders will have to pay an extra 40% in their insurance fire levy from July despite the key selling point of the Government’s amalgamation of fire services being ‘efficiency’ - according to a new report being published today by the Taxpayers' Union. The Government's reform package will result in an immediate cost increase of $80 million for little or no increase in services, despite claims by Peter Dunne, who has driven the reform, that the amalgamations will save money.
Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says, “Total fire services costs will shoot up by $80 million per year despite efficiency being the key promise by Mr Dunne of these reforms. What is worse, the Government has increased the economic burden on New Zealanders without any comparable increase in the level of service.”
“According to the Government's own figures, efficiency gains years down the track will not even recoup 12% of the forecast increase in costs due to the amalgamations.”
“Despite rhetoric by politicians that these reforms are about saving money, according to official estimates, the emperor has no clothes. The costs are forecast to skyrocket.”
The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill is in the final stages of passing in Parliament and will centralise both urban and rural fire services under the funding of the insurance levy on 1 July 2017.
Mr Williams says, “Currently, only New Zealand First are blowing the whistle on this issue. The question is, why haven’t the other parties done their homework and held Peter Dunne to account for what appears to be an enormous own goal? His reform, which he’s sold on the basis of ‘efficiency’ will, in fact, cost New Zealanders’ hundreds of millions over the next few years alone.”
The report's author, Mac Mckenna, says, “New Zealanders currently pay less than a third of the cost of Tasmania - which has a similar fire climate to New Zealand - where rural and urban fire services are centralised. Tasmanians pay $293 per person compared to only $86 in New Zealand. Despite that, the Government is adopting the Tasmanian business model.”
“Not only are the costs going up, but the reforms will mean insurance holders are unfairly targeted to fund the fire service. For example, foresters, who seldom insure, will now pay 38% less in protection whilst Mum and Dad households are paying 40% higher levies on their insurance. How is that fair?”
“The changes do nothing to incentivise self-insurance and actually rewards those who opt out of insurance altogether.”
The report “Bomb Fire; briefing paper on reforms to the fire service and the costs” is available at www.taxpayers.org.nz/bomb_fire.
| A Taxpayers Union release || May 01, 2017 |||